Was Lost in Space your favourite show growing up?
It is hard to believe the iconic tv show Lost in Space is celebrating its 50th anniversary! We take a fun trip down memory lane as Mike Lambert tells us what this tv classic meant to him.
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It is 50 years this September since the television show Lost in Space rocketed on to our TV screens. Between the years 1965 to 1968, it presented the adventures of a family literally ‘lost in space’ when their spaceship - the Jupiter 2 - spun off course and into an imaginary future set some 30 years on - October 16, 1997. It is a date that will live in infamy and every Lost in Space fan knows it.
When it was time for Lost in Space it was time to watch tv!
As a kid watching this series back in the sixties it was, to me, a date that seemed impossibly distant. Now that we are well past the Jupiter 2's launch from Cape Canaveral, carrying America's first family into space, the endearing glimpses into that future offer us a mixed bag of ideas.
Check list of Lost in Space technology. Did they get it right?
- Hydroponics? Well, yes.
- Waterless washing machines that deliver neatly folded and plastic wrapped clothes? I haven't seen any yet, have you?!
- Near speed of light voyaging to other star systems? Hmmm. . . Richard Branson is working on Virgin Galactic for space travel.
- Penny Robinson's classical music 'tapes'? How quaint!
- Artificial intelligence? Watch this space! But it is unlikely we will ever have a robot with a finely honed a sense of humour like the Robinson's sarcastic robot.
Trivia fan alert - what was Dr Smith a doctor of?
None of this particularly mattered then because we were all just along for the ride and it was great fun. At the time as a kid growing up in Australia I thought America was the forward thinking land of all things possible. It struck me as perfectly reasonable that an American family would be launched into space.
Dr Smith was the nemesis we all loved to hate
We boomers know the story of how the nefarious Dr Zachary Smith had murder - not the mission - on his mind. Meanwhile the Robinson's mission was to report on the suitability for colonisation of a planet orbiting or sun's nearest star neighbour Alpha Centauri, a mere four light years away. Dr Smith was an enemy agent intent on the destruction of the Robinson family. This was never fully addressed.
We may love to hate him, but what would the series have done without him? It is strange that Smith's unexpected and unwilling presence aboard the Jupiter 2 (having been trapped within) would cause the finely calibrated ship to veer off course.
He was the nemesis everyone loved to hate! Jonathan Harris on his role as Dr Zachary Smith
The more unrealistic the better!
Later we were to discover that the cargo was strange in other ways - baseball bats, wigs, blackboards, tennis racquets, a gingham dress big enough for the robot and fake moustaches were all along for the ride. The Jupiter 2 always seemed to crash land on the same type of desert planet, kind of like an extended vacation in the Mojave. How odd, too, that Smith should have his own sleeping quarters. Did someone have to bunk up with a fellow passenger? Or was the Jupiter equipped with a spare bedroom?
Remember the Golden Man?
The show's depictions of alien life (though, really, who were the aliens here?) kept the costume department at Twentieth Century Fox Television busy, though for the most part it was strictly kids stuff. I don't recall suffering any nightmares caused by any 'monster' on this show. However, I swear I saw a prop head from Lost in Space in the cantina sequence of Star Wars!
Lost in Space: a firm fan favourite
CBS chief William Paley hated the show and wanted to cancel it at the first sign of a ratings drop while producer Irwin Allen refused to trim the budget for a fourth season. Had it gone on for the 1968-69 season the Robinson family may have returned to Earth. Who knows? It may have become even sillier than it ended up being (and that would have been even more fun).
The actor inside the 'robot' was Bob May, a former stuntman for Warner Bros.
Fans have made comparisons between Lost in Space and Star Trek, but in my opinion the two tv series have grown closer to each other over the years. They are both preposterous! Though it has to be said that Star Trek has the intellectual edge. Star Trek’s Spock vs Lost in Space’s Zachary Smith? Even with a space age robot it does not compute. Spock and the robot, maybe.
Dr Smith was no Dr McCoy either, but for sheer laughs Smith can't be beaten. But, like The Munsters and The Addams Family I would have liked to have seen these two worlds collide.
Did you know?
It is a big year of celebrations for actress Angela Cartwright as she starred in both The Sound of Music, as Brigitta, and as Penny Robinson in Lost in Space. Both were released in 1965 and are celebrating their 50th anniversaries in 2015.
Angela Cartwright: then and now
Did you love Lost in Space? What were your favourite tv shows growing up?